Monday, August 29, 2011

This has been a week.

I came home tonight from a day babysitting my one year old niece in DC to find the lights in my house on, US Open on the (working) TV, cold wine in the (working) fridge, and best of all, an announcement on my (working, typing that again and again doesn't make it any less exciting) laptop that the college is closed all day tomorrow because it still doesn't have power.

And my God I feel like it's the first time I've breathed properly in a week. It's like someone hooked me up to oxygen. Everything cleared. Life was vivid and beautiful and I just can't stop smiling, because there is nothing I needed more than to have tomorrow off instead of being in class from 7am until 4pm.

Because this has been a week. I mean honestly. I think it's been a week for all of us. I honestly cannot wrap my head around the fact that the last week was only seven days long. Because holy crap, from last Monday to this Monday, this ALL happened:

-I went with my best friend who I have been best friends with since we were wearing stirrup leggings to her bridal portrait and saw her in her gorgeous wedding dress looking absolutely beautiful. And along with that came the realization that holy crap, the girl I've known since the days of stirrup leggings is getting MARRIED!

-I had my first week of real, legit nursing classes, which was intense to say the least. Basically most of it was a blur, but I did pick up on the fact that I will be spending most of the next two and a half years with dummies that breathe, sweat, foam at the mouth, die, and cost more than any car of mine ever will.

-I started my Microbiology class, which I am fairly convinced will turn me from the kind of person who scoffs at germaphobes to the type of person who can't stop going on and on about all of the tiny microorganisms all around and how important it is not to let them win and to have CONSTANT VIGILANCE.

-I experienced an earthquake, in CENTRAL VIRGINIA, a sensation I didn't like. Nope. I hated it. Pretty much confirmed in the opinion that earthquakes are the worst.

-I found out that coffee is not allowed in my 7am-12pm clinical. This may not seem momentous to anyone else, but let me repeat, no COFFEE in the class that starts at 7 in the morning. Those dummies do not know what they are in for (yes I know that sentence ends with a preposition which makes me the worst, but this has been a long week people!)

-I went on a date (squee!) for the first time in well, it's better not to say exactly how long. Which means I did real eye makeup for the first time in like, months.

-I dealt with the death and rebirth of my iMac's power cord. Accordingly I dealt with the insane policies of the Apple store which according to the guy who works there "are just like at a doctor's office." Because Apple doesn't have enough of a God complex already without the whole "healing" metaphor.

-I interviewed a bunch of people and worked furiously to meet my September 1st deadline, until all hell broke loose and my dream of finishing my section early dissolved. I was reminded for as much as I can complain about "work" and deadlines, the awesome men and women I meet and get to talk to in Richmond every month are the absolute best part of the job.

-I lived without power for 2+ days. And my God does going more than 48 hours without power make that first re-powered glow of a lightbulb and hum of a refrigerator things of near spiritual transcendence.

-I rode out Hurricane Irene along with a whole heck of a lot of people on the East Coast. I sat on my back porch (strangely a drier and better lit place than my bedroom) most of Saturday and watched the fury of Mother Nature blow past. And the thing you notice most is the noise. The constant wind and roaring gusts and torrents of rain of course, but all those other sounds too- almost continuous sirens, the pop of transformers blowing, the tell tale crack of a branch falling or the even more tell-tale boom of a tree hitting dirt. All that noise made the silence that finally arrived early Sunday morning all the more eerie. I listened to the radio by candlelight. I literally got dressed in the dark (and looked it as a result). I walked around the Fan and tried to control my jealous rage whenever I saw working porch lights. I went to Starbucks with the rest of the universe Sunday morning in search of caffeine and outlets  and watched as the Fan turned into a bustling, neighborly place, where people talked with strangers and shared war stories.

-I babysat for my one year old niece who is probably my favorite person on the planet, and who is also probably the most exhausting person on the planet. We went to the zoo (I was more excited about this than her) and saw orangutans and meerkats and zebras and elephants (most of the time I was shouting and pointing and my niece was just like, whatever, elephant schmelephant, one year olds are so over it all). We hung out. We read. I played the Elmo duck video on my ipod for her about 20 times in a row.

So yeah, it was a week. Which is why there are no words to express how grateful that tomorrow I get a day to get my head together, to sleep and to luxuriate in electronics. I sincerely hope anyone reading gets a similar chance to regroup, because I think anyone in this area is at this point a jagged, jangly bunch of nerves who sees a shelf of D batteries and feels the obsessive need to buy all of them.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I feel the earth move under my feet.

I spent 5 hours in a room with eight plastic, disturbingly life-like dummies this morning, so the day already had a surreal tinge to it (don't worry, in case you don't know I'm a nursing student, not a crazy person who hangs out with dummies).

And then an EARTHQUAKE hit.

I feel like Twitter has already exploded from this today, because like me, people who live on the East Coast don't really expect for the earth to wobble. Obviously I know what an earthquake is. I know the basic mechanics of it. I took two semesters of Geology in college, learned about plates and fault lines and  tectonics and what not.

But holy shit y'all. I was not prepared for the earth to literally quake. One moment I was sitting in class, and the next second I heard a rumble, thought for a second I had somehow missed the giant train track that must run right next to my campus, and then realized that no, this was not a train, nor was I having some kind of seizure. The building around me and the ground beneath my feet was simply moving.

And yeah, yeah, yeah Californians. I know you scoff. You apparently invented earthquakes and eat earthquakes for breakfast and don't even count earthquakes unless they are a 18.6. But I live in Virginia. I think of the ground below me as a solid, stable, dependable friend. So to find it suddenly rumbling beneath me like a freight train was more than a little alarming.

I'm not going to lie. I don't think I'm a disaster person. My head did not clear. I did not look for the exits. I froze and felt nothing but sheer, animal, blinding panic for the brief few seconds where I thought that perhaps the Mayans were not as punctual as we all thought, and in fact the world was ending several months early.

I wanted to crawl under my desk, rock in the fetal position, and cry a little bit. I didn't. I laughed it off with everyone else when it ended. But a few minutes later I realized I had not released my vice-like grip on the edges of the table.

No, I do not like earthquakes. I do not like earthquakes at all. And everyone has been laughing about it now, sure that there was no major damage or injuries, being all self-deprecating like good Richmonders. But I have a suspicion that I am not the only one who experienced a moment of poop yourself panic. Because feeling the ground wobble and shake beneath you is simply something that should not be allowed. It's a complete and utter loss of control, an experience of being utterly at the mercy of the planet beneath your feet.

In other words, absolutely horrifying.

Not enough so to get the class canceled mind you.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Coffee Mate is my kryptonite.

I have a confession. I go through a family sized thing of Coffee Mate like every month. And no, a small family is not eating this Coffee Mate as its main sustenenace. Nor do I use Coffee Mate in creative, Martha Steward-esque ways. I do not mix it with baking soda for a cold remedy or spread it on my toes for smoother skin. 
I eat it. Me alone, put it in my face hole, in multiple servings, every. single. day. It's entirely possible that my stomach has created a pouch devoted entirely to Coffee Mate. I can picture my poor, little digestive team, all what is this lady's DEAL with the coffee mate, using shovels and wheelbarrows to cart it to the intestines, with a "sorry guys, it's your problem now, have fun digesting THAT."
I just can't help it. I prefer Coffee Mate to real, honest to God, straight from the cow cream. There I said it. You know how if you eat at a fancy restaurant for breakfast, they'll give you a tiny little silver piitcher with cream in it. That's nice and all, and I love to use a tiny pitcher because it makes me feel like a giant, but really I just wish they'd give me a mound of Coffee Mate. They could put it on a fancy plate to class it up and all, but I need my Coffee Mate. Sorry cows. 
It was one of my greatest joys during my time in Thailand to discover that Coffe Mate existed over there. I had to haul out to the Tesco Lotus and buy it in single serving packages, but it was worth it. Sure putting Coffee Mate into the instant coffee dregs they serve over there is really like adding one chemically created powder to another, and I very well could have been risking some kind of small explosion with all the chemicals involved, but I just can't help it. 
I think it makes coffee taste dreamy, and yes I meant to type dreamy and not creamy. But you know it also makes coffee creamy. It softens the bitter edges of my morning cup (or two, or three). It turns the harsh-looking black liquid into a caramel, butterscotch invitation to enjoy. And the best part. It does not cool down my coffee. I have this weird thing where I hate to drink super hot liquids, but I also weirdly enjoy the process of waiting for my coffee to cool off on its own before I drink it. I think it's because when I first wake up I'm not quite ready for caffeination. I need those few, still sleepy minutes where I can hold the hot mug in my hand and let the last hazy, dream-like moments come and go. And then when I am ready for that sweet, sweet caffeination, the coffee is at a perfect temperature. 
I just can't get enough of the stuff. And stuff really is the better word than food or food product. Because let's be honest here. Coffee Mate is not food. It's a closer relative to laungry detergent. It's just bad for you in every possible way. After my first semester of Nursing school and taking a nutrition class, I swore off hydrogenated oils forever because they are basically linked to every possible disease that can kill you. You know what's in coffee mate? HYDROGENATED OILS. You know what else is in there? I mean really do you? Because I've read the ingredients list and I cannot for the life of me make heads or tails of it. 
It's entirely possible that every morning I am ingesting a product that is pure evil. I mean really, I'm fairly confident that sacrificial blood is in fact one of the key ingredients to Coffee Mate, that and xantham gum. 
And yet, even though I know it's bad for me, even though in most other aspects of my diet I am very health conscious and avoid high-fructose corn syrup and yada, yada speechifiying cakes, I just know I will never stop eating Coffee Mate. A study could come out tomorrow linking Coffee Mate directly to multiple personality disorder and I would keep eating it, me and all my new selves. Coffee Mate could be recalled because scientists have found that it is in fact single-handedly responsible for global warming, and you know what I would do? I would get myself to Costco and buy out their entire supply of jumbo cans of Coffee Mate and hoard them until the day I die, a death that would in all likelihood be hastened by the fact that I eat so much damn Coffee Mate.
But it's just my thing. We all have one, that food or drink or chemically altered substance we can't live with out, no matter how many times that bossy pants friend of ours tells us how many ways it will kill us. I'm curious to find out, interweb people, what's yours?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gleeeee Project

Until a couple of days ago I thought that the only people who should watch the Glee Project were teenage girls with posters of Justin Bieber or Jonas brothers on their walls. But then on Sunday night there was nothing else on. Shark Week was over. And if I wasn't going to watch hours of disturbingly graphic shark attack reenactments, then what else was I going to do?

So I gave The Glee Project a chance in that half-ironic, half-cultural experiment way we always first watch something that we would be embarrassed over if anyone else knew we were watching (hello Jersey Shore and all of the Real Housewife franchise). And oh it's so good. It's good in that way that Glee was first good-when you watched it and they broke into a musical number and at first you were embarrassed over the whole thing but then within seconds just gave up completely on that embarrassment because it was too darn delightful and cheese-tastic. But it's like goat cheese cheesy, in that there's actual substance there. It's not Breaking Bad, but it's refreshing in this reality competition cluttered landscape that in this particular reality show there is a whole lot at stake. These kids (and they are such kids, so heartbreakingly young and earnest, even in their ambition) are on this show to get a 7 episode arc on Glee. Before I watched it, I assumed they would just win like a one-line walk on role, like the contestants on America's Next Top Model win on CW TV shows (don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about, and if you really don't know what I'm talking about, well then, you are clearly a better, more dignified person than I). 

But 7 episodes on this massively successful show, when most of them have never acted before in their lives. That's a big freaking deal. And so even though I went into it all haughty and judgmental it took about 5 seconds to just be completely won over. Yes, it's all a little silly with the "homework" assignments and music videos, but the core of the show is pure. And that's rare for a reality show. Most reality shows are in fact quite rotten at their core. They're full of withered, shrunken, fame hungry souls that have no hope of redemption, that exist purely in the land of reality TV and would apparently dissolve into puddles of sunless tanner and designer labels if removed from a camera. 

But these kids on the Glee Project, well at least for the moment, they're just sweet, sweet kids, all hope and dreams and awkwardness, and ridiculously endearing. Maybe it's because I know now, at the grand old age of 25 (insert sarcasm here), how much changes between 18 and 25, how much harder it gets to hold onto those dreams you had at 18, how the world does everything in its power to pry those dreams right out of your hands. Maybe that's why the sight of these 18 year olds singing and dancing and truly, non-ironically believing in their dreams honestly is very moving to me, in a way I never expected the flipping Glee Project to be. 

Oh and Damian. Sweet, sweet Damian. He's Irish and has these big blue eyes, and he's so adorable I literally want to shrink him, put him in my pocket, and carry him around with me. And I know that makes me creepy and a borderline pedophile, but if you watch this show you will know what I mean. 

I urge you to watch it. It's the least classy, least refined, least sophisticated, least cool TV you will watch all summer. It's simply itself, all earnest, goofy, embarrassing heart.

Friday, August 5, 2011

About this Footloose remake.

Ever since I first hear rumbles about a Footloose remake a couple of years ago, I made the conscious choice to ignore it. And I've been able to do that, through the Zac Efron and Chace Crawford rumors, through the talk of turning it into a musical. I've simply pretended it didn't exist, and that was comforting.
But then as I was in the theater waiting for Crazy, Stupid, Love to start, the trailer for the Footless remake found me, and rudely intruded into my life. And I no longer feel I can ignore this travesty. Indeed I feel that my conscience has been stirred, and that to stay silent while this evil dances and shimmies its way into the world would be just as bad as if I had made the horrid thing myself. 
This is happening. And honestly I don't even know where to start when trying to pin down just why this remake is such a violation of all that is holy and good in our world. 
It could be the fact that both Zac Efron and CHASE FREAKING CRAWFORD, the dumb pretty, vacant boy from Gossip Girl decided they were too good for this. Have you seen Chase Crawford in any movies? I mean really have you? I sure haven't. And yet despite the fact that he doesn't appear to be making any movies at all, he passed on this thing.
It could also be the fact that the lead actress is Julianne Hough, the girl from Dancing with the Stars.  
But those reasons only scratch the surface of why this movie looks so shiteous. The boy who plays Ren has such a terrible, God forsakingly bad Northern accent that for long stretches of the preview I thought they had made Ren foreign. I'm not even going to address his bouffant, or the fact that he wears the SAME TUX to the dance that Kevin Bacon wore 25 YEARS ago, because it's too upsetting. The movie appears to be set in modern day, juding by the bumping and grinding that has now taken the place of the beyond awesome 80s dancing in the first movie, and yet half the costumes are IDENTICAL to the costumes worn by the original characters. Ren drives the same car, wears the same outfits to school, and even does his angry, warehouse dance routine in the same outfit. I don't know if the producers were going with nostalgia with this, but it just looks ridiculous. There is not a single (straight) teenage boy alive in 2011 who wears tight jeans and tight white tank top. Kevin Bacon pulled it off but it was 1984 and he was KEVIN FREAKING BACON. It also seems that some exact scenes and exact bits of dialogue are recreated. Basically it looks like they half-heartedly moved the action to modern time without making the effort to match the sets or the clothing or anything really to it. Which not simply begs, but pleads and screams the question we should all be asking ourselves, WHY?

WHY, WHY, WHY did they think they needed to remake Footloose. Why touch a movie that is so good, perfect in fact? There is no replacement for the Bacon or SJP or as much as I love Dennis Quaid, John Lithgow. No one could ever match the joyous, wonderfully illogical dance sequence at the end of the first film where all these kids who are not allowed to dance know all of the latest dance moves, including complex break dancing. No one could be as sweet as Chris Penn. 
I know everyone who loved an original movie howls in injustice when they remake it, and it is possible to remake a movie and have it be good. But shouldn't there always be a reason behind the remake besides simply making money? I almost could live with this if they had made it into a musical, because then at least it's not just some pale, lesser copy that will (and here's the really tragic thing) take the place for young kids today of the original. 
Footloose was one of those movies you thought would never be updated, because it existed on that cusp of the past and the present, back in a time when it wasn't laugable that a town would outlaw dancing or burn records. Footloose was about dirty dancing before dancing was dirty. Looking back on it now, despite the fights and the occasional sex talk, it's touchingly innocent. The kids race each other on tractors for God's sake. Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer only exchange chaste kisses. The whole point of the movie is that you can't stop change. It rushes forward and kids rush toward it, no matter what the adults try to do. But at least in this pre-Jersey Shore. pre sex-ting, pre internet bullying film, that change was shimmering, unthreatening, and beautiful. It was a bunch of kids in a basement dancing until they were flushed in the face.
And that, more than anything, is what they can't replicate in this film, the sweet last days of childhood when kids think everything in front of them is new and unexplored and are literally bursting out of their skin to get to it. Not to get all "kids today", but I can't help but feel that really kids today don't experience that in the same way, because there's no way to really shelter a child in today's world short of holing them up in a cave somewhere. 
Which is really depressing. But luckily when I think of such things I can go watch a wonderful movie like Footloose to cheer myself up. My only hope is that this false intruder, this putrid waste of film, dissapears as quickly as it came. And who knows? Maybe it will inspire kids to rent (do people rent movies anymore?)/ download the old one, the real one, and see a world they have probably never known. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I spent the last few days in Charleston. I went to Sullivan's Island, sat on a chair with my toes squished into the sand while the warm ocean air blew in lazy drifts across my face. I ate a big, juicy burger at Poe's-the best way to eat a Poe's burger, pink in the face from sun, major beach hair, with my legs and arms still covered in sand and salt. I ate a fluffy, soft egg and cheese biscuit at Hominy Grill and then wandered aimlessly around downtown South of Broad, not even minding the swarms of tourists, content and happy to share so much beauty. I repeated my beach excursion only at Isle of Palms, and watched little back dolphins skim the waves as I sipped from a cold Corona.
And then I left. And as it does every time, my heart broke, snapped in two like it was made of twigs instead of muscle. 
Although maybe that's the wrong way to phrase it. You see, I don't think my heart breaks when I leave Charleston. I simply think I leave it behind. I watch it recede in the rearview window along with the white triangles of the Cooper Bridge.  Because Charleston is my soul, and it's my grace. And judging by the way it feels every time I leave, Charleston is my heart. 
I sometimes think about what would have happend if I hadn't gone to school there, if I had gotten into UVA or had decided to go to Elon or Mary Washington instead. No offense to anyone who went to those schools, as they are great schools and for many people they would have been right. But for me there was only every one choice, one school, one town.
I don't care what oppurtunities UVA would have given me. I don't care if you told me that if I had gotten into UVA, I would be making six figures right now (because so many 25 year olds are in this economy). I wouldn't change a single thing about my life if it meant giving up Charleston, if it meant that Charleston would just be a pretty place I viisted once. The thought of that shakes everything inside of me. It leaves me clammy. Because without Charleston I wouldn't have an anchor in my life. 
When I'm in Charleston everything makes a little bit more sense. Life can still be stressful and overwhelming, but whenever life was that way when I lived there all I would ever have to do was walk out my front door. I can't even count the number of walks I took Freshman year, when I was homesick and scared and nervous about being on my own. And it didn't matter how upset I was when I left my dorm, as soon as the city got a hold of me, as soon as I was enveloped in all that heart-bursting beauty, my heart would slow, my breath would deepen, and I'd know, not just trust or believe or hope, but really, really know, that it was all okay.
I don't know if everyone gets that. I think I might be really, really lucky. And I know it's not just Charleston, that other people could have their Charleston's in Maine or Iowa or California, a place of beauty and contentment, a soul mate of a city. But I'm not sure everyone has that. And I know how close I was to not having it, to signing a letter of acceptance to somewhere else and never having Charleston in my life.
Thank God that didn't happen. Thank God this life of mine has Charleston. I hope I will live there again one day. Honestly it's hard to even wrap my head around a reality where I never live there again, because as much as I love to visit, it's always a little excruciating. Because what I really miss is the life I led there. I miss grocery shopping and going to the dentist and running errands on rainy days. I miss those thousand boring, inconsequential details that make a life. I want to have a life in Charleston again. I hope very much that I will. 
But if I don't, if for some reason Charleston and me are through with that part of our story, then I'm still thankful. I'm thankful for the four and a half years I had there, four and a half years that gave me enough beauty to last a lifetime. I'm thankful for what I can see when I close my eyes, for all of those frozen snapshots, of marsh and balletic bridges, of still harbor and rushing ocean, of tangled oaks and whisps of Spanish moss, of grand old houses and tiny, weathered docks, of gentile columns and shady porches, of oysters on cold nights and buckets of shrimp in the summer, of sweat and humidity and salty rain, of shops and markets and water, water for miles, water gently holding a town and its people with each new tide.
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